The Crystal Method

The Crystal Method

Crystal Method is the biggest selling Electronica group in the country. The group is made up of Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland. In this interview with Ken Jordan he talks about their new album “Divide by Night”, their debut which just went platinum “Vegas”, and one of their biggest hits “Busy Child”. He also talks about production, equipment, and in his eyes where the music business is going.

WHO?MAG: Talk to me about the new album “Divide by Night” and what’s behind the name?

KEN JORDAN: It’s our first new studio album in about five years. We’re working on a bunch of other things since the last album. We did our second mix CD, a soundtrack album, and this other thing called “Drive”. This is the first proper studio album in like five years. We got a bunch of collaborations on there. Like the guys from LMFAO on a track and Matisyahu on the single and video. We have a lot of collaborations, but it still sounds like a Crystal Method record. Well, it’s like a metaphor for our lives. We work pretty hard and have pretty normal lives at home, but then when we go out and DJ night clubs and go on tour, it’s a completely different world.

WHO?MAG: How did you get Matisyahu and Justin Warfield for the album?

KEN JORDAN: We met Matisyahu at a festival last summer. His tour manager came by our trailer when we were getting ready to play at this festival. He asked him if he wanted to come and throw down during our set. We said “yeah” and it sounded like a great idea. He came out and rapped to a track from our first album called “High Roller”. It just went really well. We talked about collaborating on the new album. We sent him some tracks and decided on which ones to work on. He recorded his stuff in New York because that’s where he lives and we worked on it back and forth a couple of times. “Drown in the Now” was the finished product and we thought it was natural selection for the first single. We were talking to this guy Christopher the Minister. He’s on satellite radio. We were talking to him and some of the fans about singers and stuff. He was mentioning he was in a band and we thought it would be really cool. At the time, we didn’t realize it was the same guy who had done like early underground tracks with Chemical Brothers. He came over and he was really into us and a real cool guy. We played him some stuff and he chose “Kling to the Wreckage”.

WHO?MAG: What’s the difference between this album and “Legion of Boom” back in 2004?

KEN JORDAN: We think its more song oriented. There are more vocals for sure. We think the songs are much better and hope it’s a better album.

WHO?MAG: Let’s talk about the history of Crystal Method. How did you guys come together and how did the name for the group come about?

KEN JORDAN: We both still lived in Las Vegas. We both started working on music separately and both were working at the same store as part time jobs. One day Scott came in with a drum machine and we just started talking. We noticed we had similar musical interests. So we put our gear together at my apartment and started working and we’ve been working ever since. It was a girl Crystal we knew. It was a weird story. A rapper that we were working with and this girl used to give us rides everywhere. Where we were going to meet up later on and how we were going to get there, I know! The crystal method! And we just thought it sounded funny and sounded like a drug and it kind of stuck. (laughs)

WHO?MAG: How is your guy’s production process?

KEN JORDAN: We like to start with an idea, either a riff, chord progression, or a melody, sometimes a beat. A lot of people think we always start with a beat, but we don’t. We always start with something else first. Most of the writing is done in the studio. A lot of times we’ll come up with the first idea and we’ll work on it from there. It’s all writing, mixing, and producing in the studio.

WHO?MAG: Equipment-wise what are you using at the moment?

KEN JORDAN: Pro Tools and there’s a lot of old analog synths. Also a lot of virtual plug-ins for synthesizers and a lot of analog emulating virtual synth plugs.

WHO?MAG: When you were working on your debut “Vegas”, what were you using back then?

KEN JORDAN: For “Vegas” we were using an early version of Digital Performer and we only had seven audio tracks maximum. A lot of mixes we did were live mixes and there were thirty tracks of mini triggered stuff and seven audio tracks.

WHO?MAG: What’s more comfortable for you to use: music production software or hardware gear?

KEN JORDAN: Well, there’s still some sounds that the plug-in stuff can’t really get, but the analog gear can get. You know when you use a plug-in everything works. When you use old analog gear, hardly anything works. (laughs)

WHO?MAG: How did the song “Get Busy Child” come about and how was the production process behind it?

KEN JORDAN: We were working on it first and we were touring. It just kind of really started with the “I guess you didn’t know” sample and the beat. I remember we couldn’t get the beat right like forever. I remember we used the Recycle program to try to fix the beat to make it sound great. Then the track just kind of developed. We were playing it out live to test it out and working on it. After a while, we thought we got it right. It was actually the first single from “Vegas” before “Vegas” came out. We used Digital Performer and we used Nord to mix most of the synth sounds and the bass sounds. The drums are a combination of mostly our own programming and little bit of [Fruity] Loop.

WHO?MAG: In the reissue of the album that came out last year, the bonus CD was all remixes. Did you choose those artists to do the remixes or they came to you?

KEN JORDAN: We choose all the artists. It was people we liked what they were doing at the time. We choose them and we really took our time on that. It’s mostly remixes and then there’s one live song and then an old unreleased demo.

WHO?MAG: Talk about the “Drive” album you guys did with Nike. How did it come about and where was the cover picture taken?

KEN JORDAN: Some Nike/Apple guys had a meeting with us to tell us about their secret project which turned out to be the whole Nike plus thing. We’ve always used Macs and at the time we were wearing Nikes. We don’t wear them anymore. Anyway we thought it was a good project; so we did it. It was first available on iTunes and for the Nike Plus thing. We let them have it for 6 months. Now it’s just one of our releases you can get anywhere. We did a whole photo shoot at a running track at Glendale Community College.

WHO?MAG: How did you guys end up doing the soundtrack for the movie “London”?

KEN JORDAN: This producer that tried to hire us for this other movie called “Spun”. He came to us and we watched the movie and we liked it. We thought we could do a good job with the score and it was our real first score work. Where we actually look at the scenes and create music just for the film.

WHO?MAG: Was it difficult doing the score?

KEN JORDAN: Sometimes it’s easier because you kind of know what the mood is supposed to be and know where the action is so you kind of have the music land at certain points. Some of its harder; you have to make the rhythm or the time fit the certain parts of the scene that you’re supposed to accent. Some of that technically is harder, but the creative process is easier.

WHO?MAG: How did you guys hook up with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine for the “Tweekend” album?

KEN JORDAN: We found out that he had secretly gone to a couple of shows of ours and he was a big electronic music fan. When we found that out, we tried everything possible to get a message to him. (laughs) At first he wasn’t he wasn’t calling back. We were really discouraged, then it turned out we were calling the wrong number; then when we called the right number. He called us right back. When we worked with him, he came to our old studio the Bomb Shelter, which was a total disastrous time and he was really cool about it. He didn’t really care. He brought his gear and was really easy to work with. He co-produced some tracks with us and played on a few. We really liked working with him.

WHO?MAG: How about with Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots?

KEN JORDAN: We had talked to him about working together a long time ago. When we finally did work together, it was one of those things where he just kind of did his stuff at his studio and we did stuff on our studio, but he never really came over. We never knew what it was like to work with him.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with DJ Swamp?

KEN JORDAN: I think our A&R guy Doug Cydell knew him. We knew of him because we’d seen him perform at some Beck shows or something. I always knew he was an amazing DJ. He did the scratching on “Name of the Game”. It was the first time we’d seen a CDJ player. They gave him an early version of it or something. He did the scratching on “Name of the Game” on one of the first CDJs ever to come out; the new good ones.

WHO?MAG: I’ve seen videos of him. He’s crazy!

KEN JORDAN: Yeah it’s kind of crazy man. We had him play with us a couple of times and set stuff on fire; doing Tarzan off the polls. (we both laugh together) He’s a pretty wild guy.

WHO?MAG: Which is your favorite album?

KEN JORDAN: Probably “Vegas” because it’s our first one and we took a long time to make it and it did well.

WHO?MAG: Have you ever had any issues with sample clearances?

KEN JORDAN: Nah! Ever since the beginning, the only samples we’ve ever used we cleared and paid for. It’s never been an issue with us. We hardly use any though.

WHO?MAG: Who are some of your influences as producers?

KEN JORDAN: Going back to Trevor Horn, Butch Vig I think he’s amazing. William Orbit he’s really good. All the guys from the 80’s and 90’s influenced us.

WHO?MAG: The Butch Vig who produced Nirvana right?

KEN JORDAN: Yeah. He produced Nirvana “Nevermind”. He produced Smashing Pumpkin’s “Siamese Dream” and the first Garbage album which is amazing.

WHO?MAG: How do you guys approach doing remixes?

KEN JORDAN: We just like to take generally just the vocals and then kind of turn it into our own track. We don’t pay that much attention to the original song. We did The Doors cover and did kind of leave that one intact. I guess it just depends if it’s a good track to start with, then we’ll leave some elements of the song. If not we’ll just take the vocals.

WHO?MAG: You’ve gone from a major to having your own label. Which is better?

KEN JORDAN: Well right now it’s best to be your own label because all the other labels are going down the toilet. They’re all going broke. You kind of have to be on your own label right now, unless you’re Kanye West or Brittany Spear. I think we’re moving towards a market where music will be for free and you just pay for other things: tickets for shows, merchandise, or whatever. It’s seems like that’s the way it’s going to me.

Kelvin Davis

If this face looks familiar, it’s because he’s all over your television set. Currently, he’s been on CBS’s “The HACK”, HBO’s “The Wire”, and NBC’s “Third Watch.” He’s been nominated by BET’s Buff Brother of the Month for June 2003. Kelvin has been a model for almost 10 years including commercials for Nextel, Nike, and Old English. He appeared in a couple of videos including P. Diddy, SWV, and Lords of the Underground. Presently he is filming with Denzel Washington in an upcoming presidential movie. We ask Kelvin to supply us with some tips on acting.

WHO?MAG: For starters, how did you get into acting and how long have you’ve been doing it?

Kelvin Davis: Acting was part of my main goal as a kid. I had a couple of things that I wanted to do. I wanted to play football, model and act. So I played football. I had a 4-year scholarship to North Carolina University. I wanted to pursue that to a professional career by attending camps, but some injuries kinda pushed me away from that so I ended up playing some minor league ball. I did that for a while until injuries pushed me away from that again and more towards my modeling. Then after my modeling ambition, I wanted to pursue acting. And this is pretty much where I am now. It’s been a period professionally of over 10 years

WHO?MAG: How difficult was it to make the change from athlete to model to actor?

Kelvin Davis: Of course when I was playing ball I was a lot larger than what I am now. Maybe 10-15 more pounds heavier. One of the main things is even though you have different sizes and shapes; you still have to be very careful as a male model size wise. You don’t want to pigeonhole yourself as just a big guy or a muscle model. I had to restructure my whole body, meaning I had to change my diet, my work out, stop lifting heavy so I wouldn’t get larger. I just rely on my diet right now to keep me at a nice trim and comfortable level. Also for the camera because the camera puts some extra weight on you. With modeling, people really want their clothes to be seen, but if your to big or don’t look right, they are not going to book you. Positioning my body defiantly was the hardest transition.

WHO?MAG: Are there many differences between working for a cable network verses basic television?

Kelvin Davis: Yeah, one of the main differences is the language. There’s more flexibility on story lines on cable whether it be more controversial or highly graphic or language. When you’re doing HBO, you really don’t have to worry too much about the language. But then again, sometimes you do because sometimes they take that story and run it to a regular network so you have to go back and change some of the language in it. A network television, everything has to be toned down because of the kids watching TV. Although they watch HBO too, it’s not as accessible for kids. Otherwise, the acting is pretty much the same.

WHO?MAG: What is the difference between an agent and a manager?

Kelvin Davis: Normally, agent’s responsibilities are to get the headshots and information to send to the clients. Managers are more involved with your career. They kind of guide your career. Give you suggestions here and there. They’re more personalized. They usually work with a lot of agents.

WHO?MAG: What should upcoming actors look for in finding an agent?

Kelvin Davis: Do some research on that particular agent. There are a whole lot of people out here who are agents and there are a lot of agencies out there. It depends on how much experience you have. If you are someone just starting out, I would say start with a smaller agent and kind of get your feet wet and build your resume. But its really important to do you research because there are a lot of agents that will get you by charging a big registration fee. There are list out here that are available to you that you can call and ask how long they have been franchised with SAG. If you’re just starting and go to a larger agent, you might get lost in the shuffle. Some agents will give you a trial period where they send you out a few times and see how you do. If they like you, you might want to consider sign. Just make sure you’re with the right agency that works for you.

Cherie Johnson

Cherie Johnson
If you don’t recognize Cherie Johnson, then you must not have a TV. From her Punky Brewster’s best friend to Days of Our Lives, The Parker’s, and Family Matters, to her big screen roles in Teaching Mrs. Tingle & Malibooty, Cherie has been a dominant face on the acting scene. We ask her acting techniques and what it takes to make it in today’s industry.
Interview by Rob Schwartz
WHO?MAG: Being a woman, do you find it hard to be taken seriously when it’s crunch time and time for business? If yes, how does that make you feel?
Cherie Johnson: Sometimes it can be a little hard to be taken serious. My one pet peeve is a lot of men go into business with women expecting them to sleep with them. When they find out that’s not going to happen, they’d rather partner up with another male to get the project done. Even when you’re much more qualified then the male, they still partner with the guy. I guess boys will be boys.WHO?MAG: Is there anytime when you find yourself with your back against the wall feeling discouraged? If so what so you say to keep your mind focused?
Cherie: Of course, but I just remind myself that the Lord wouldn’t put anything in my lap couldn’t handle and I remind myself to be thankful for the things he has given me.WHO?MAG: Was there anyone who inspired you to really get into this field and take it seriously?
Cherie: My uncle inspires me. He’s an Executive Producer. He made me realize that I was talented at an early age. When I was young, we spent a lot of time together writing and doing skits. He taught me how to cry and show my emotions, as well as make people laugh. So in a way he molded me and guided me into the acting field.

WHO?MAG: As you already know, this is a very hard industry to break into. What advise do you can you give someone that’s up and coming?
Cherie: First I would say make sure your heart is in it. Don’t let anything or anyone discourage you. Never give up on your dream. Try and try again.

WHO?MAG: What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years? 10 years?
Cherie: I would like to become an executive producer running at least 3 of the top TV shows, while starring in one of them. I would also like to get married and have a family within the next 5 to 10 years.

WHO?MAG: Are you interested in writing for movies or sitcoms?
Cherie: Sitcoms first, and then movies. I never want to limit myself but TV is where my heart is.

Steve Silk Hurley

Steve Silk Hurley
House legend DJ Steve “Silk” Hurley is back in action. After producing and remixing some of the biggest names in music, Silk has become a household name. Check out this interview where he talks about Janet Jackson, CeCe Peniston, and the house vibe of today.
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: What have you been up to lately?
Steve Hurley: I’ve been working on a few different projects. One is the singles from the “Chicago” LP that we released last year. This was an SNS record, which were me and DJ Skip. If you want to get more information on that go to www.snschicago.com. You’ll see the project on there. Basically, we’re getting ready to drop the singles off of that project. We wanted to release the album first and let people get to know the album and now we’re going to drop the singles, which will bring a whole lot more attention to the project.

The other project I’m working on is my daughter’s album. Her name is B Lauren. She’s an R&B singer/songwriter and her first single is going to be featuring Twista. That’s coming out in the next few months. I’m also doing my stuff for Tom Joyner. The old school/new school remixes that I do.

WHO?MAG: Tell about the Globalmixx conference you’re involved with?
Steve Hurley: It’s something that Mary Datcher is doing. I’ve known her since she was the intern at one of the radio stations. She’s always been a go-getter and for years we’ve been putting on a conference to bring the energy to Chicago to network with Chicago industry people. It’s been growing every year. It’s mostly geared toward mix show DJs and DJs in general because Chicago is basically a DJ town. So what better place to have a DJ conference? We used to have Billboard conference here every year and they stopped doing in Chicago. It’s kind of filling a void. I think it’s a great thing.

WHO?MAG: How did you get into DJing and House music?
Steve Hurley: That’s a good long story, but I’m going to make it short. (Laughs). I was always the guy with the boombox back in the days making cassette tapes. I heard these guys Peter Lewiky and Kenny Jason on a station called Disco Dai Plan and they were mixing disco record together, but they were mixing Chaka Khan, Donna Summers that kind of stuff. They were actually blending from one song to another. That was my first experience hearing someone actually mixing and it sounded so cool that I wanted to learn how to do it myself.

Basically, I was working at the grocery store at the time and I was still in high school. I decided to take my grocery store money and buy some turntables. I got myself a DJ case and I eventually was able to buy a few records. I only had 5 records. I used to go to the parties and tap everybody on their shoulders and ask if I could play my 5 records. (Laughs). Eventually, somebody got me into a DJ battle at a place called Sawyers, which was a hot spot for the young crowd that was into the stuff that we eventually called House music.

House music back then in ’82-’83 was the music Frankie Knuckles was playing at the Warehouse which was old disco and current New York club music. I ended up winning the DJ battle and I got the spot to DJ at the Sawyer and the rest is history after that. I remember shortly there after when I was spinning at Sawyers, I started making my own versions of some of the disco songs with the drum machines and a borrowed keyboard. I eventually bought a keyboard. I just gradually started getting into production like that. That was my journey of getting into DJing. It was a whole lot of practicing in between just so I could win the DJ battle. It took around 2 to 3 years of practicing in the basement and not really getting an opportunity than just DJing in people’s basements. I did a lot of parties for free, just for people to hear me. That was pretty much the battle exposing me on a big level here in Chicago.

WHO?MAG: What was the first big song that you produced that got you notoriety?
Steve Hurley: Actually, what’s funny is the tracks that I started making, I made one “Music is the Key” which was one of the first house record that I did and it reached the Billboard charts. When that happened, I made some other records like “Jack your Body” and “Shadows of your Love”. When I did that, I had a guy named Keith Numbly sing on the record because it did well. We ended up forming a group called Jay and Silk. We ended up working on an album and eventually got signed to RCA Records. While that was going on, I was still doing production.

I think my first remix for a major artist was Funkytown by Pseudo Echo on RCA records which was a big pop records. Eventually, I noticed I didn’t want to be an artist because I wasn’t really a singer. I was more of a producer. I just wanted to get my songs out there. I started doing more and more remixes which some of them were Ten City all of their earlier work. Inner City’s “Good Life”, Roberta Flack, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna. It just started snowballing at that point. I had a group called Jamanda which was one of my most successful remixes. The song was “Got A Love For You” which was on Big Beat Records, an independent label, but the record did really well actually because of my remix. I took the vocals and sampled them. I totally rearranged the song and made a whole new music track. I kind of started a trend.

Remixing used to be that you would take the existing track of someone’s song and you would rearrange it and make it DJ friendly. I turned it into reproducing the song and change the music totally and making a whole new track. This is the norm now for remixes, but back in the days, people would add percussion and a couple of breaks to the song and make it sound better in the club. They would re-EQ it. This is the norm now, to rearrange the song on all remixes. Except on the hip-hop side, which is usually the same song, but with a rapper on top of it. It’s usually not totally remixed. Although sometimes it is. People are confused as to what a remix is because they do the new version with a rapper on top of it.

WHO?MAG: How did you end up doing the remix for “Welcome to My Groove” by Mellow Man Ace and the production process behind it?
Steve Hurley: In Chicago, they didn’t play it as much as in other cities and overseas. At the time, I was on Warner Bros. Benny Medina hired me, the guy who developed The Fresh Prince story. He was an A&R person at Warner Bros and I had done mixing for him for Prince, like the song “Get Off” and few other Warner Bros projects and he gave me that song to remix. I thought it was a cool track and I hadn’t done a whole lot of house mixes of rap songs, even though my very first song had a rap in it with me rapping in it. I’m not too proud of my rap, but it was a rap I guess. (laughs)

It was a transition from DJing to remixing to songwriting, because at the same time, I was a songwriter too, because it was my very first song I wrote all the lyrics and arranged all the vocals and all that too. I kind of was songwriter and producer from day one, but I kind of became an artist and then I became a remixer and then I got back into my songwriting again. Then I started working with Cece Peniston and Shante Savage. Then I got back into my remixing as well. I did stuff for Mary J Blige, R Kelly, I wrote a song for a soundtrack for Donnell Jones with Rashaan Paterson, another artist I worked with on the Love and Basketball soundtrack. I also worked with Oprah on her version of American Idol. We did the album in two weeks. I wasn’t too proud because of the short period of time. We didn’t have time to be creative.

Now I’ve come full circle where I’m doing all those things and I’m working with my daughter who I think is one of the most talented singer/songwriters out there that you’ll be hearing about real soon. If I recall, that song had a sample. I can’t remember right now. They already had cleared the sample, so I was able to use it and the music around it. I don’t know what the process was to clear the sample, but it was cleared before they put it out. Basically on my version, I took the sample and put more of house feel around the sample. I don’t remember how the original was but I went in more of a house direction. I tried to make it fit as if I was DJing as far as how I wanted it to sound.

WHO?MAG: How did end up doing the remixes for Janet Jackson and Cece Peniston?
Steve Hurley: It was around the same time. Cece Peniston, she actually picked a song that I wrote called “Keep on Walking” and another one called “We Got a Love Thing” with E Smooth and Jerry McAllen and Shante Savage wrote and I had produced. I ended up doing those two songs on her first album because at the time when “Finally” took off which a lot of people think I did that song; which I didn’t.

I had a song named “Too Blind to See it Out” by a girl named Kim Sands who was in our camp and it was out at the same time as “Finally”. The guy who was the A&R liked my production on that and wanted to see if I had any more stuff in that vein. That’s how I ended up with “We Got a Love Thing”. He wanted something kind of R&B but with a dance flavor. That’s what “Keep on Walking” ended up being. I wrote that song and did the track as well.

Basically after that, we worked on the second album. I did the song “I’m in Mood” and “I’m Not Over You” which were more on the R&B side. I was able to branch out and do some stuff on the R&B side. While I was doing that, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis started hiring me to do a lot A&M B tracks and Mint Condition and I ended up giving them a Janet Jackson remix in the process as well.

WHO?MAG: How was it working with Cece Peniston in the studio?
Steve Hurley: I remember on the first album on “We Got a Love Thing” and “Keep on Walking” there were some high notes she was struggling to hit. I had to kind of crack the whip because I knew she could do it. She was real young, but she was determined to get it done. I could tell it was hard for her because she really wanted to hit the notes and the notes she didn’t hit them. I didn’t know what we were going to do because the notes made the song what it was. It was like the peak of the song.

She found a way a way to get through it and she did. To this day, she always says she grew from that situation as a vocalist. The next time I saw her, she performed it and she hit the note on stage with no problem. She’s always great to work with because she’s professional and fun hitting the notes right and adding her flavor to a song. She did a few tracks for my label too which did good for me independently. We still have a great rapport.

WHO?MAG: How did you hook up with Rashaan Paterson?
Steve Hurley: In 1996-97, I was in the airport. I was a real quiet guy. I was on a thing that I felt I needed to always network at that point because I had gone through a lawsuit. I saw a lady with an MCA [records] jacket and I went and introduced myself to her. Her name was Madelyn Randolph. She actually was the A&R for Rashaan Paterson. When I introduced myself, she said she knew all my work and that she was trying to get in touch with me.

It was the most unbelievable thing because I ended up doing a house remix for his song “Where You Are”. After that, we developed a great rapport and we did some R&B tracks with him as well. He did some songs for my label too that are ready to come out.

WHO?MAG: Production-wise what equipment are you using and DJ equipment what are using?
Steve Hurley: Right now, I used to use Digital Performer for year. Then I switched to Protools and I had a whole bunch of gear, like all the keyboards that came out, all the stuff that most people have. Recently I got Logic Pro 8. I had Logic before, but I never used it.

When Logic 8 came out it was very user friendly. I’ve been using that for music programming. I also use M Audio products as well. I used M Powered in my laptop and I use Torque to DJ. I get a lot of my ideas from Torque as well. I use Reason also. I’ve used 1200s ever since I started DJing, but now that I’m using the Exponent. I use the 1200s less and less, even though I can control them from the Torque software. I’m finding that I’m becoming more of a live remixer than a turntablist now because there’s so much I can do.

Technology has let me rearrange songs on the fly while I’m DJing. That’s what I use, the Torque for everything now. I hardly ever use the turntables anymore. I do love the feel of the turntable. With Torque Exponent I can remix live and layer things. I still twist knobs and make things happen. I not just behind a computer letting the songs mix on their own.

WHO?MAG: How do you approach to producing a song or a remix?
Steve Hurley: A lot of times, it’ll start with the track because I’m primarily a track maker, even though I write songs. I write maybe about 50 tracks for every song I write because the music comes too much faster than the lyrics. But if I have concept, then I might take some chords to the concept, if I have melody and a lyric idea. I might figure that out in my head before I get into the track. Then I’ll get the chord in the track and the song will still be there.

When I’m getting into a track, I’ll start with either a particular drum sound or I might start with a keyboard. I still like starting with chords because I feel like chords are what really move people with the melody and get them into the melody of the song. With remixes, I’ll just pull up the acapella and I’ll just start playing keyboards and try to find something musically that’ll go great wit the vocal. I’ll act as if I’m collaborating with the artist in the room. Once I get that figured out, then I can make my track and it’ll be in the right key. As long as I use the chords that I came up with as the structure and the basis for any instruments that I play, it will work and it’ll get the feel that I want to get.

I try to play emotion into the remix not just a nice beat. A nice beat is good, but if musically it doesn’t do anything for you, I think it’s going to blend in with all the rest. I like to do music that’ll hopefully become classics that 10 years from now, you’ll listen to it saying “man it sounds good even now!” That’s what I’m always striving for.

WHO?MAG: How did you get your nickname Silk?
Steve Hurley: When was like 11 or 12, I think. A few friends and I started a dance group. Even though I can’t dance, I was still part of the dance group. (laughs) There were three of us in the group and we had t-shirts with nicknames on the back. I had to have a nickname one guy was Stretch because his arms were real long. Another guys name was Herc because he was real muscle bound like Hercules or whatever. They were like “why don’t you call yourself Silk “because I had wavy hair. After I used the name for that, when I got into DJing, I used the name to say my blends were smooth and I was smooth on the turntables. That’s how that came about, by accident I guess.

WHO?MAG: Have you ever had any issues clearing samples?
Steve Hurley: Back in the day a lot of people started putting drum loops on their music in the 90s. I kind of followed suit because I thought you don’t really get sued for that. I did a song which used the sample of “Impeach the President” I think. I ended up having to pay afterwards but they didn’t hit us so hard because it was a drum loop. On that same song, I used some vocals from “Let No Man Put us Under” which was a popular disco song back in the days that we considered house music and I put that on there. I pretty much ended up doing two remixes for the price of one with the label to get the sample cleared. It was crazy, but it was cool, because I still ended up making money on it, but I just had to do the remixes for less. I kind of bartered for using the sample.

WHO?MAG: How do you feel about house music today?
Steve Hurley: It went global. I was in Latvia DJing, which was part of the Soviet Union, but it’s a free country for the past 10 years. We were DJing at this festival in front of 65,000 people and it was crazy. We were playing nothing but Chicago style house music, which a lot of the more popular house music is more electro, techno, or harder house music. We feel house music is bigger than ever.

Actually people like Kanye West and Ne Yo and Rihanna and a lot of R&B/Pop artists are doing or making house albums. Beyonce is making a house music album now. Madonna made one. It’s still pretty large. It’s just that house music has struggled to have its own house music stars.

The closest thing we had to that was maybe Crystal Waters and Cece Peniston. Cece Peniston is also an R&B artist as well. When you grow up singing R&B, you don’t want to just be a house music star. You want to express yourself in any kind of music that you’re doing. For me as a producer, I don’t like to just do house music, but I like to do R&B music too. I kind of get to live that dream out. It’s funny that its come full circle that house music is accepted in the R&B/pop music world.